The day is part of a collective effort to help raise awareness of the more than 110,000 children in foster care across the nation waiting to find permanent homes. It is also a celebration of families who have already opened their homes and hearts to adopted children and in most cases have helped to improve the trajectory of a child’s life forever.
Each year more than 400 cities throughout the nation host National Adoption Day ceremonies to finalize adoptions and draw attention to the need for foster and adoptive parents. The events are held just before Thanksgiving each year to provide more families the opportunity to celebrate as an official family during their upcoming holiday celebrations. Last year alone about 4,700 children were adopted on National Adoption Day and since the day’s inception in 2000, about 65,000 have been adopted. The day marks the end of a long wait for the families and especially the children who, on average, wait 3 years in foster care before being adopted.
Locally families from across Central and Northern New York will travel to Syracuse to attend the 5th Judicial District’s National Adoption Day Ceremony on Nov. 17. Family Court Judges from a six-county area including Oswego, Jefferson and Onondaga counties will be there to finalize a total of 48 adoptions this year. Judges take the time to make each adoption special and every time an adoption is made official, they ring a bell indicating that the child is now part of their forever family. Thanks to a dedicated committee of volunteers who work to help make the ceremony possible, families leave the event as an official family.
The event began in Syracuse 17 years ago in conjunction with the national movement in an effort to celebrate the adoptions and draw attention to the need for foster parents. It has since become a memorable and moving event for hundreds of families. Parents who have attended the event in the past say the day marks the end of a long, uncertain time and the beginning of a new, more permanent journey. For many, when the bell rings to signify the formal adoption, the moment of joy is one they will never forget. Further, being present with other adoptive families and sharing in that joy together makes the experience even more meaningful.
Not only is the day memorable and life-changing for the families involved but the event breaks some of the barriers to foster care. Event organizers say spectators who attend have been so inspired by watching children become part of a forever family that many have become foster parents themselves. Because of this, agencies and social service employees are in attendance and set up at tables at the event to offer information about foster care and adoption. They also display pictures of children who are available for adoption in the area to raise awareness about the many children in need of homes.
Becoming a foster parent is often a first step in the adoption process. According to an annual report issued by the New York District Courts to the State Legislature, more than 90% of prospective adoptive parents approved by authorized agencies are already caring for children as foster parent. Sadly, many children are not adopted. Across the nation, 23,000 children age out of the foster care system each year with no family or permanent home. The event works to shed light on the great need for more foster parents in the hopes that this number will diminish and more children’s lives are positively impacted by people who are willing to become foster and/or adoptive parents.
This year the guest speaker will be Sean Kirst. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 17 and the ceremony begins at 9:30 p.m. at the OnCenter. For information about foster care, Oswego County residents may call 315-963-5382, Onondaga County residents may call 315-435-3827 and Jefferson County residents may call 315-785-3240. Foster parents must go through a certification process which includes training and background checks. Trainings for foster parents are offered at the county level.
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